14 items from 2011
Alex Gibney has directed some of the most acclaimed documentaries of the last decade - among them Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, and Taxi to the Dark Side, which won him an Academy Award. An incredibly prolific documentarian, Gibney now turns his attention to Magic Trip, a collaboration with Alison Ellwood, his editor on Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Here Ellwood handles editing, producing and co-writing duties while Stanley Tucci provides his professional cadence as the narrator/interviewer. Magic Trip covers a 1964 roadtrip undertaken by Ken Kesey, best known as the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Joining Kesey are an group of recreational drug users (and much more) who would soon be called the Merry Pranksters. Neal Cassady, Kerouac's inspiration for Dean Moriarty, »
- Mark Zhuravsky
Beverly Hills, CA . Contemporary documentarians will explore the rapidly-changing landscape and increasing profile of documentary filmmaking in “The Rise of Nonfiction Movies,” the latest installment of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. John Huston Lecture series, on Wednesday, October 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The evening will be moderated by R.J. Cutler, producer-director of “The September Issue” (2009) and producer of “The War Room” (1993).
While information may be spreading faster and distribution choices are evolving at a dizzying pace, non-fiction filmmakers continue to find cutting-edge solutions and storytelling forms to prove that truth is often better than fiction. Despite the significant hurdles their producers and distributors often face, theatrical documentaries have gained a newfound popularity, in many cases because of their willingness to challenge the status quo and delve into the drama, humor and fascination of real life.
Panelists for the evening include Amir Bar-Lev, »
- Michelle McCue
Ted Streshinsky/Corbis Ken Kesey, October 1966, San Francisco, Calif.
In 1964, author Ken Kesey and an entourage known as the Merry Pranksters lit out from La Honda, Calif., bound for New York, on what would become one of the longest, strangest trips of all time. Armed with 16mm video cameras, musical instruments and copious quantities of LSD, they traveled in a 1939 International Harvester school bus painted day-glow colors and driven by beat generation icon Neal Cassady.
- Rachel Dodes
Rowan Joffe (The American) has signed on to script a WikiLeaks movie co-produced by HBO and the BBC. According to Variety, Joffe's script will focus on "the story of the database run by former hacker and internet activist Julian Assange and his operatives, whose mission is to collect and disseminate via the Internet private, secret and classified information from anonymous sources." After releasing thousands of sensitive government documents, Assange was at the center of a maelstrom of controversy and news coverage last year, in turn multiple feature projects. Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) will produce one, Josephson Entertainment and Michelle Krumm Productions optioned an Assange biography in the works, and Alex Gibney (Casino Jack and the United States of Money) will direct a WikiLeaks documentary. Charles Ferguson (Inside Job) is on board as director for the HBO/BBC project. Joffe's feature directorial debut, Brighton Rock, premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. »
- Brendan Bettinger
George W. Bush said after bin Laden's killing that he wanted to stay out of the public eye. But Peter H. Stone of the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News says 43's becoming a high-profile figure on the buck-raking circuit.
Related story on The Daily Beast: Democrats' Negotiator in Chief
But Bush has been raising his profile in a different, and lucrative, way: He has raked in millions of dollars since leaving office by making scores of speeches that typically earn him six figures a pop.
In the week after Obama's May 5 ground zero event, the 43rd president made time for three separate speeches to hedge-fund executives, a Swiss bank sanctioned for keeping secret bank accounts, »
- Peter H. Stone
Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney just doesn’t stop. After winning the Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side in 2008 he has released Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, My Trip to Al-Qaeda, Freakonomics, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.
He recently premiered Magic Trip at Sundance and then his latest film, Catching Hell debuted at Tribeca just a few weeks ago. We now have the trailer for the former film, who he co-directed with Alison Ellwood. The film follows the 1964 expedition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey on his drug-fueled road trip. It didn’t garner strong reviews at Sundance, but one can see the trailer below via Apple and the film later this summer on VOD and in theaters.
In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One »
- Jordan Raup
Chicago – While Alex Gibney’s enraging 2010 documentary “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” brought cinematic immortality to the life of recently imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, George Hickenlooper’s narrative re-telling transforms the cinema-obsessed criminal into the larger-than-life movie hero of his dreams. I have a sneaking suspicion that Abramoff may love this picture.
Consider the memorable pre-title sequence. Abramoff brushes his teeth in the mirror of a public bathroom, while harboring a stare to rival that of Jake La Motta. It’s not long before he launches into an impassioned and defensive monologue, justifying his outrageous actions while voicing his contempt for the majority of humanity, resigned to living honest yet “mediocre” lives. Like him or not, he is who he is, though the levels of self-deception fueling his self-righteousness are dizzying to say the least.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Since Abramoff’s words are practically indiscernible from those of Scorsese’s mobsters in “GoodFellas, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
The next presidential race will be driven by more money than ever before-and the Gop is already besting the Dems' fundraising. Peter H. Stone of the Center for Public Integrity reports on the tactics behind the furious money grab.
At a Washington hotel and a building blocks from the White House, the smell of money-big money-was in the air.
Related story on The Daily Beast: Obama's War on Schools
In a speech Wednesday to some 500 top Democratic fundraisers, President Obama focused on what's he's accomplished so far and the serious challenges ahead such as energy, the red-ink budget and the Middle East.
Across town, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers were toasted at a fundraiser hosted by the lobbying shop Bgr Group, founded by potential Gop presidential candidate Haley Barbour. Bgr was picketed by liberal groups furious over the state's gutting of collective bargaining for public employee unions.
It was a curious juxtaposition »
- Peter H. Stone
Gibney helmed such acclaimed docos as "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room," "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" and "Casino Jack and the United States of Money". His films usually feature interviews or input from his subjects, it's "inconclusive" though if Assange will co-operate.
Former Universal chairman Marc Shmuger and Gibney are producing. This is not to be confused with the feature thriller film announced yesterday based on an upcoming book about Assange. »
- Garth Franklin
Being one of the more polarizing public figures of the modern era kid of puts you on a fast-track to a movie about your life, either in the form of a documentary or biopic. But, if you’re extra special, like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, you get both.
According to Deadline, the founder of the document-leaking, politician-infuriating organization has caught the attention of both Alex Gibney and Universal Studios, who’ve agreed to fund a documentary for him to direct. His past work, which includes Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Casino Jack and the United States of Money makes him a great fit for the headline-occupying material (I love hyphens!).
The big question is at the moment is Assange’s involvement; in the past the filmmaker has often gotten his reviled subjects to tell their side of the »
- Nick Newman
I'm pretty sure Alex Gibney does not sleep. I couldn't tell you how he never sleeps -- maybe a cybernetic implant or possibly a enormous intake of NoDoz -- but there's no way this guy could taking eight hours a night off and crank out this many movies. In the last twelve months he's premiered three documentaries -- "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," "My Trip to Al-Qaeda," and "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" -- and he contributed a segment to the anthology doc "Freakonomics" and he's debuting a new film he co-directed, Magic Trip," this week at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. This guy makes Ryan Seacrest look like an early Richard Linklater movie.
And he's not done. Deadline just reported that Gibney has just sold another documentary to Universal Pictures, this one about the controversial founder of the controversial website, Julian Assange. Deadline »
- Matt Singer
One of the first big pieces of news out of Sundance is that Universal will fund a documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, directed by Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United States of Money). Together with the biopic of Mr. Assange that is about to go into development at a different company, that would make him quite the man of the moment -- if he hadn't already been the man of the moment thanks to the actions of WikiLeaks over the past months. [Update: Deadline  says that HBO is also developing a film about Mr. Assange. This one would be a co-production with the BBC based on Raffi Khatchadourian's June 7, 2010 New Yorker article  called No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency.] More detail on each film after the break. Deadline  confirms the deal with Universal but isn't able to say whether »
- Russ Fischer
Exclusive: Oscar-winning documentary director Alex Gibney has found his next hot-button film subject. Universal Pictures has just acquired a documentary that Gibney will direct about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The film will be the first project involving Marc Shmuger since he left the chairman post at Universal. Shmuger and Gibney are producing. Whether it’s Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, or the Jack Abramoff documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Gibney usually tells his stories with input from his subjects. Will Assange cooperate? I'm told it's inconclusive. Universal confirmed the deal but wouldn't elaborate. The WikiLeaks docu follows a deal announced yesterday by feature producers who optioned an upcoming book about Assange. There are plenty of those in the works, including a memoir Assange is writing to defray his massive legal fees. The Gibney/Shmuger documentary »
- MIKE FLEMING
You can’t always go by your first impressions. When the story of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff first hit the news, the media seemed to rejoice in having a hiss-able bad guy. The cable news channels loved running the video of his “perp walk” complete with wardrobe by Boris Badenov ( matching black fedora and trench coat ). Early last year we got to know more of the full story with Alex Gibney’s documentary Casino Jack And The United States Of Money. And now the feature drama based on the true story of D.C. corruption has arrived at movie theatres: George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack with Kevin Spacey in the title role. With this telling we learn much more about the real man behind the scandals ( and late night TV monologue jokes).
The film opens with a tribute to the first few minutes of Raging Bull. Abramoff stares into a mirror »
- Jim Batts
14 items from 2011
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